If you’ve known us at Panda Rose for a long time, you know these 5 words fit us well, and if you are just getting to know us or want to know more, here are some things you can expect!
I often hear people use this word to describe us at Panda Rose. Every employee is extremely knowledgeable, and quite multi-talented. If one person is ever stumped on a project, we collaborate and brainstorm with each other to reach a solution. This method is quite effective for us at Panda Rose, as so many employees are talented and knowledgeable in areas above and beyond their job title. Something really cool about us, is we actually train you how to manage your website on your own! We find it valuable for our clients to have control over their website and know how to run/oversee things.
(Or as some might say: quirky!) When I think of creativity, I think of Ms. Frizzle, the teacher on Magic School Bus! Her dress had different shapes and colours, her hair bright red and a little crazy sometimes, and her personality was always adventurous! And didn’t she have a pet lizard?
Anyway, while none of us drive a magic school bus (sadly, cause what a fun commute that would be), I would say this creative description suits us well! Most of us have quite adventurous personalities (and if you don’t believe me, watch a few of our YouTube videos and you’ll see what I’m talking about!) I would say our work matches Ms Frizzle’s outfit: it’s eye-catching, leaves a lasting impression, and displays your businesses personality perfectly (minus the tackiness)! Plus if you have glowing planet earrings you can believe we’re going to highlight it! In other words, whatever makes your business unique, we pay attention to the details and will design your website, mobile app, social media pages, etc. accordingly!
We like to have a good time at Panda Rose, and love to connect with people and network! If you are local to Spruce Grove, Stony Plain, and Saint Albert you have probably met someone from Panda Rose! We all love to laugh and have a good sense of humour, making us easy to get along with. One of my favourite social media posts we did was Father’s Day 2019. We sent out a bunch of dad jokes from people in the office, and you guys loved it! Creating an office and business atmosphere where people feel comfortable to express some of their biggest ideas, comes down the people. We are excited about your business and your future and our attitudes sure show it!
Panda Rose is located right here in Spruce Grove, and if you know anything about Spruce Grove, you know that we love to support each other’s businesses! Am I right, or am I right? This stretches as far as Stony Plain, Edmonton and surrounding areas. Good chance that if we work with you, we also look for any way we can support your business, such as buying your products because we genuinely love them or using your services! We are in the business of helping businesses, and we honestly want to see your business thrive.
We know how to work hard! We put in the time and effort it takes to generate results for your business so you see a profit. Your success = our success! Not sure if digital marketing, web development or any variety of things we offer will help your business thrive? We’ve seen time and time again that it does! But don’t just take my word for it, you can see for yourself! Check out our testimonials section on our website, and send us an email to see what we can do for you!
It’s not uncommon to find yourself stumped by the questions your social media manager may be asking during the onboarding process. Some of these things you may have never even entertained the thought of, so why not prepare yourself in advance?
What struggles do you have with social media?
You should be asked this question. While your social media manager (SMM) may already be able to see a few struggles, it’s good to be prepared for this question as some struggles are not so obvious.
What are your specific goals? Do you have a number goal in mind?
Having goals in mind will help your SMM be the best at their job, and it eliminates a guessing game. What are some business objectives you have? The most common business objective is of course to increase sales, but you may want to increase brand awareness, or website traffic. Your SMM will be able to take your business objectives and turn them into social media KPIs.
What platforms do you have already? Which work best?
We do our research when you inquire for our services, and probably know which platforms you already have. Making sure we are all on the same page right from the start is best practice. This includes coming prepared with login credentials for your SMM.
What content has the best engagement?
Not everyone pays attention to the numbers, we get it. It will help the start-up process move a little faster if you already know what content has the best engagement and to remain consistent with content that already works. That being said, we are the professionals. Your content may be doing well on the number side but may be harming your overall goals.
For example, sharing content that is highly popular, but doesn’t align with your brands voice, may get you great numbers but does nothing for actual business objectives. Just think, if you share a trending meme you may get attention, but that could be all. The attention you get could be from people way outside your audience demographic. Therefore they don’t care about your business and wont go past hitting the like button. Trust your SMM; we look past the vanity metrics and see what will help you in the long run and create a strong online presence.
What is your target audience?
As a business owner you know your audience better than anyone, it helps to give the details to your SMM such as your audience’s location, age, interests, lifestyle, etc. During the first month your SMM will spend time researching and learning your audience so they also become familiar with your audience and having a base understanding will speed the process along.
What is your brand’s voice? Does it have a specific opinion?
A major part of having an online presence is to establish your brands identity. Maybe you’re a fun, charismatic company that wants to take the stress out of a stressful business niche. This question can sometimes stump onboarding social media clients, as not every business knows what their brand’s voice is, especially if they have no online presence. Your SMM will work with you to find your businesses voice and tone, as these two things turn your business into a brand. The key here is to stay consistent across all platforms.
Who are some of your competitors? What makes you better?
I’m sure as a business owner you’re aware of your competitors, and what makes your business better than the rest. This is a huge factor in creating a social media strategy. Informing your SMM of your competitors will give your business an advantage. You know the saying, “keep your friends close, and your enemies closer.” Well, your competitors aren’t necessarily your enemies, but it’s good to keep a close eye on what works for them, and what doesn’t. Your competition may not be practicing social listening . . . but you are! Their audience could be asking questions, and getting no response. When people feel heard and valued, they are more likely to trust your brand.
If you find yourself lacking the answers to some of these questions, I encourage you to put some time aside and find the answers even if you aren’t looking to hire a SMM. This is a great way to improve your social media strategy yourself and learn even more about your business. We are always open to answer any questions you may have for us, give us a call.
And the landlord is still expecting you to pay rent.
And you’ve got bills to pay.
You’ve got products that are going to go out of fashion.
You’ve got people who rely on you for employment.
You’ve got your own family to support!
So what’s a business owner to do in a situation like this?
For obvious reasons, you can’t just open up your shop and run business as usual. A fine from the government is the last thing you need right now! But surely there must be an alternative?
Well, yes, in fact there is (I’m sure you saw this answer coming a mile away).
But wait, there are some things you need to consider first . . .
The elephant in the room
Yes, that one. Amazon. Let’s face it, as soon as you enter the online marketplace, you are competing with Amazon. That’s not an easy feat. You’ve also got Etsy, Ebay, and countless other well-established sites out there to compete with. You need to ask yourself these questions:
What makes you stand out from the rest? What makes you different? How are you unique? What do you have to offer that they don’t?
Do you sell something unique to the region? Do you sell something that everybody wants, but can’t get from the mainstream big box stores? Do you offer delivery services in your region? How about next-day pick-up so a customer can save money on shipping? These days it takes several weeks for even Amazon Prime members to receive items in the mail. For an online shopper, being able to get their hands on an item quickly is like gold!
But . . . how?
There are lots of ways to open your own online shop. The first thing you need is a website. If you don’t have a website, you need to get one 10 years ago! You can’t possibly tell me that you’re too good for a website and don’t need one. No lie: any time I’m looking for a new place to shop where I haven’t been, I try looking up their website to see if they’re worth my time. And honestly, if the look kinda ghetto, I’m less likely to go. So get yourself a good-lookin’ website.
But why else do you need a website? I mean, everybody knows about you and people find you through word of mouth, right? Well, what about when your friend Janice’s aunt Sally’s best friend Betty’s sister Noreen hears about the shop from aunt Sally, but aunt Sally can only partially remember the name, and Noreen has an even worse memory than aunt Sally, so she only remembers that your shop’s name had something to do with pigeons or birds or something and the name of the town it’s in.
Oh, yes, that. So let’s assume the website thing isn’t an issue. Now you need to figure out how to sell your items online. There are a number of ways to do that, either through third-party websites where your products will be lumped in with a bunch of other products for sale from other businesses, or on your own website.
Yes, you can actually sell your own products on Amazon. But do you really want to compete with Amazon on their own website? Probably not. If you’re selling a product that Amazon already sells, you must list it on the same page, you can’t duplicate a product, but you can’t incentivize your product with two-day shipping. That’s something you have to earn. And speaking of shipping, Amazon decides how much your shipping rates are going to cost. If you’re interested in trying that outlet, article on Amazon.ca has some basic info on what you need to know to sell on Amazon.
Ebay is an interesting place, but you have to do your research if you want to sell there. Taking a look at top-selling items can be helpful in telling you what people are looking for on ebay. If your product doesn’t really fall into those categories, then it might not be the right place for you. If you sell antiques and collectibles, it’s almost definitely the place for you. If you want to learn more about ebay, here is where you can check out their selling basics page.
While you’re on their site, it’s kind of fun to look at their prohibited items page. Among may other things, if you’re trying to sell any of these things, I suggest you avoid ebay:
Products that pose a health or safety hazard (that seems really open-ended to me)
Speleothems, stalactites, and stalagmites obtained from caves on government land
So, if your store sells any of these things, I’d steer clear of Ebay.
Is most of your product handmade/original product? You could choose to open your own Etsy store. If you sell something particularly unique, this is not a bad option, or if you sell craft supplies or vintage items. You will find yourself competing with a lot of suppliers from China, though, which is always a challenge. Warning: like ebay, you also cannot sell human remains on Etsy. Also off the table: metaphysical services, violence, and illegal items. If you want to read more about Etsy’s store policy, you can view it on the Etsy website.
Now, as much as I like shopping on these sites, if you’re a mature business with a storefront trying to move into the online world, a better option would be to create your own store rather than putting all your products into someone else’s store, and this is where Panda Rose would really like to help you out.
A very popular hosted E-Commerce platform for selling products is Shopify. You pay a monthly subscription fee and can add any number of upgrades for additional features. They’ve got a nice clean-looking catalog and it’s relatively user-friendly. And yes, you can get your own web address, so if you want your site to be www.myawesomepigeonstore.ca, it can be that. Shopify can adjusted to have the look and feel that you like to match your company’s branding, and it can integrate well with Canada Post, manage your inventory, connect with your accounting system, and anything else you could possibly want.
If that’s not enough, there are some big names out there who trust Shopify — Adele, Lady Gaga, World Wildlife Foundation, Hasbro, The Economist, Heinz, and BBC. As you might imagine, while it’s primarily a shop, it’s somewhat versatile in how you can use it.
As a drawback, it tends to be more on the “cookie cutter” side of things, which I’m never a big fan of.
Speaking of versatility, if that’s what you’re after, Woocommerce is what you’re really going to want. I might be a little biased because I enjoy working with WordPress so much, but I’ve always liked how easy it is to manipulate everything in WordPress, which also includes Woocommerce. They’ve got a plugin for everything, but you don’t always need that plugin, you can often figure out your own code to make things work the way you like.
One project that was particularly interesting last year was making WooCommerce work with a non-Wordpress site for doing fundraisers. The site was built from our own code, but pulled all the WooCommerce info for products and whatnot, and people completed their purchase on the site. Our client only really had to deal with the WordPress/WooCommerce side of things as well where their main site is, which kept things easier for them.
All this to say that: if there’s something you want us to build, we can make it happen. Our answer is rarely “no”, and when it is, it’s usually because it’s in your own best interest, and if you still insist anyway, then so be it! We generally believe that nothing is impossible. I think that WooCommerce aggress with us with their “sell anything” and “no limits” points on their WooCommerce Features page.
Are there other eCommerce platforms?
I mean, yeah.
Are you going to tell me all about them?
While there are other platforms that offer eCommerce like Squarespace and Wix we generally recommend against using those types of platforms. They are not good for SEO and their limitations are significant. Because of their business model, they also tend to nickel and dime you for every little upgrade you want. eCommerce or website, just avoid these platforms. They’re not nice to work with and they don’t look good to search engines.
So what now?
Give us a call, comment on this blog, send us an email, contact us through our social media, send us smoke signals, or whatever way you prefer to communicate and set up a meeting with us. We can walk through the wide world of eCommerce and help you make the best decision for the type of business you run. We can help you build or refresh your website, and we can help integrate eCommerce into it. If your funds are more limited, we can help set things up and send you down the right path with a bit of training.
At the end of the day, we truly want to see the small businesses in our community be successful. As long as we have the tools to help business owners do that, we’d like to be a part of that.
I’ve been thinking about self-driving cars a lot lately. It’s a fun topic to look into and there’ve been several interesting articles recently. There’s been a lot of talk out there because the self driving car reports from California have come out for this year. I agree with this article, however, which points out that these reports don’t really tell us anything except for which companies test on Californian roads.
But I’ve noticed something interesting. In a lot of these articles, both the ones on the reports and articles on other aspects of the industry, there’s inevitably some prediction for the future and this prediction is usually contradictory to most of the other predictions out there.
Often it seems like we’re going to usher in a golden age of self-driving cars that don’t need humans and our dream of watching a live action Cars movie can come true. (that’s everyone’s dream right? Not just mine?) Other times it seems like we’re about to utterly destroy civilization entirely and be left holding a single broken key fob. With this in mind and after scouring the web for predictions on when we’ll have self driving cars I’m pleased to introduce a brand new initiative here at Panda Rose. The Panda Rose Choose Your Own Prediction Adventure! By following this simple quiz, you can easily come up with predictions to give to all your friends at your next cocktail party and even better, it doubles as a really cheap personality test. Are you ready? Alright, let’s begin!
Looking at the latest technology I am absolutely certain that we will have self-driving cars ______!
the distant future
When we get self driving cars they will ____
usher in a golden age where no one owns their own cars anymore.
usher in a dark age of traffic where everyone and their dog are driving everywhere
not really change anything
lead to the destruction of modern society and massive civil unrest.
The solution to all the problems stopping us from using self-driving cars is ___
not needed. Almost all our problems are solved already. I’m already getting ready for my preorder.
to put all cars onto rails and maybe change their name to ‘trains’.
making it illegal to go near a road on foot.
nothing. There’s no solution. We can only accept that it will never work.
Self-driving cars will eventually be as safe as ____
whatever the safest thing in the world is. I dunno. The Svalsgaard Doomsday Seed Vault maybe?
a car driven by a really good human driver.
a car driven by a contestant on Canada’s Worst Driver
standing on the surface of the sun.
Self-driving cars are ___
guaranteed to work correctly so I’ve sold my current car and invested all my money in all the companies.
a good idea if they work.
alright, I guess.
the fifth horseman of the apocalypse which will lead to our destruction at the hands of our car overlords.
Now it’s time to calculate your results. Add up the numbers of every answer you chose.
If you scored 5 points, you’re an idealist. Your view of the future involves you driving into the sunset in a beautiful sports car. And when I say that you’re driving, of course I mean that the car is driving while you take a well deserved nap.
If you scored 6-19 points, you’re probably a realist. Especially if you didn’t answer question #3 because you didn’t agree with any of the choices. You think there’s a good chance that we’ll get self-driving cars at some point but life won’t really change all that much for us when that happens. You’re willing to wait and see though.
If you scored 20 points, you’re a pessimist (or a Luddite perhaps). You don’t think we’ll ever have self-driving cars but if we do it’ll be the end of us all.
If you scored 0 points because you skipped over all the questions, you probably think that you don’t have enough information to make a prediction and so you’ll keep quiet for now. Well a noble intention, I’d urge you to reconsider. Not having any information certainly hasn’t stopped the rest of us so why should you miss out on all the fun?
Mobile apps can make your life easier in a lot of ways. Here are ten great apps I personally use to simplify and improve my life.
Feedly is a news aggregator. That means it allows you to see all the articles related to different topics or from different sources all in one place. We’ve got ours set up to show us all the things related to Blogging, SEO, Social Media Marketing, etc. Ultimately, which news aggregator you use is up to personal preference, but I find that Feedly is sleek and easy to use. The fact that it’s also available on the web helps since I can always switch over to the desktop too. The only downside is that since their logo is a rounded square with one corner missing, it drives me crazy.
Microsoft Teams is an alternative to texting, like Telegram, What’s App, and all of those, but in addition to chatting with contacts or groups of contacts, you can also set up teams where people can post and reply to updates and attach files.
Time tracking is obviously important. Everhour makes the process simple and straightforward. They have a free plan that allows up to 5 users though if you need more users or integrations you’ll have to go with one of their premium plans. It works in your browser, as a browser extension, and as a mobile app, which means that you can track your time while you’re in or out of the office with a few clicks or taps.
Did you forget your password again. Well, it’s not too hard to remember it. It’s one of the 1,000,000 passwords you use so that should be easy to remember. Or you could just use 1Password. If your phone has fingerprint detection capabilities you can fill in all your passwords just with your fingerprint. And since you don’t have to worry about remembering your passwords (except for your 1password password. Don’t lose that one.) you can go with those passwords that were written by 10000 monkeys on typewriters.
5. Kitchen Stories
Kitchen stories is a cooking app with a major advantage. In addition to the free recipes in the app and added to it by users, it also includes free instructional videos on various cooking techniques making it easy to follow along while you cook. I used it to learn how to make the perfect poached egg and now my eggs benedict is to die for.
6. Google Drive, Dropbox, or OneDrive
It’s hard to pick a favourite between the big three in cloud storage and file sharing. Dropbox has the least free storage but it still has its benefits. It would be a lot longer of a blog post if I went into which one you should go with and why. I just think you should go with at least one of them. That way you can easily access important files on any of your devices.
Apple’s built in podcast app is alright, I guess. But Overcast is where it’s at. It’s ridiculously easy to sort podcasts from newest to oldest, oldest to newest, or even sort the unplayed episodes one way and the other episodes another. More importantly, since Apple removed their playlist feature, it’s easy to create playlists and smart playlists for yourself. It’s only for IOS, but there are free apps out there that do similar things for Android if you can’t stand android’s built in podcast player.
I’m probably not telling you anything new for this one, but Duolingo is definitely one of the most fun ways to learn a language. I’ve been doing their Russian course and I’ll probably try out their new Latin course too. If you haven’t heard about Duolingo before, they are
A few years ago, the scanner attached to my printer stopped working. While trying to repair it I discovered Scannable. To this day, my printer’s scanner still doesn’t work. Scannable is an app that allows you to scan documents using your phone’s camera. You’d expect a low-quality scan, but I’ve been able to get better quality scans using Scannable than I get from the office printer.
10. Every Dollar
My wife got me hooked on budgeting. Our life is so much easier to manage now that we’ve budgeted it. The app we used to help us manage that budget is Every Dollar. If you’ve heard of Dave Ramsey, you’ve probably heard of Every Dollar since it’s his app. It’s great. It’s easier to use and gives a clearer picture of your budget in my opinion than Intuit’s Mint which is the most popular budgeting app.
By the way, the answer to the riddle in my last post Game-ing the System is: The man had the hiccups. So the bartender pulled out the gun to scare his hiccups away.
“Beauty is truth, truth beauty’—that is all Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.” – Ode on a Grecian Urn by John Keats
There is a lack of beauty in modern life. “Form ever follows function,” We’re told that Beauty is merely an unnecessary ornament. Even though that ignores the full meaning of the quote. In reality, according to the originator of the phrase, Louis Sullivan, “Whether it be the sweeping eagle in his flight, or the open apple-blossom, the toiling work-horse, the blithe swan, the branching oak, the winding stream at its base, the drifting clouds, over all the coursing sun, form ever follows function, and this is the law.” So, while the appearance of a thing should never be disconnected from its purpose, that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be beautiful. That would imply that beauty itself was without purpose and, as we shall see, it is not.
Food, water, warmth, and sleep are just some of the basic necessities of life. It’s pretty obvious that we can’t survive without them. I’d argue the same can be said for beauty. In some ways it’s even more necessary. As Dostoevsky said, “Man can live without science, he can live without bread, but without beauty he could no longer live, because there would no longer be anything to do to the world. The whole secret is here, the whole of history is here.”
Sadly, for many of us a lot of that beauty has perished from the world. We wake up. We drive out into the gridlock. We sit in our cubicle next to our coworkers in their cubicles, above and below other workers in their cubicles on other floors. All of us typing away on identical screens until we eventually go back through the gridlock and get home. Maybe then we’ll finally have time to go to a park or play a game, or maybe we’ll just sit on the couch and watch the same show that are neighbours and their neighbours and their neighbours’ neighbours are watching. Just another cog in an ever-expanding machine. Where is the beautiful in our lives? It’s been replaced by a drab monotony.
Now, what modern architecture does right, it does really right. There is truly something awe-inspiring in a row of towering skyscrapers in the skyline. The view from an airplane window as it comes in to land is breath-taking. Cities from far away look amazing. However, up close and personal, the drab monotony comes back. And I’m not the only one who thinks so. Here‘s an article from the NYT written in 1964. We’ve been living and working next to these ugly buildings as they slowly but surely tear down the beautiful architecture of the past replacing it with more of the same.
Suburbia doesn’t fare much better. Let’s be honest. Is there anything awe-inspiring of a row of houses of near-identical design? Not really. The only thing that makes you and your neighbour different is that you couldn’t pick his shade of green for your house so you had to pick that yellow that you don’t really like. The endless variations on the same theme are enough to drive me insane. (a short trip, according to my wife.) and good luck navigating without an address. In some parts of Canada addresses are meaningless. The terrain and even the houses themselves are so unique that you can navigate by landmarks. But try doing that in the city and you’ll find the opposite is true. Addresses are the only way to navigate in a world where every street looks just like the last.
It’s even more true of a high rise with identical apartments piled one on top of each other to fit as many people as possible inside. The only difference between the 23rd floor and the 22nd floor is that the people down below are slightly smaller on the 23rd. Don’t get me wrong, with the high populations in urban centers high rises and apartment complexes are definitely necessary. Without cheap mass housing, there would be a lot of people without places to live. I just think we need to remember the costs as well as the gains. We need to remember to provide beauty for their residents. It’s easy for the well to do to live in an ugly city. when they need to see something beautiful they can buy a painting. Or go hiking in the mountains.
At one point, this lack of beauty wasn’t an issue. The average member of society always did one thing every week regardless of their economic status. They always went to church on Sunday. Regardless of who they were or how much they owned, they could see beautiful statues and domed ceilings every week. But gradually as society has become less religious and as religious buildings have begun to match their urban surroundings more and more, this source of beauty has faded as well.
This has caused detrimental effects on our mental health as studies have shown. This is one of the reasons why urban environments are a greater mental health risk than rural ones. Without the beauty of nature we’re left with whatever the cities can or can’t provide. Of course, the drab monotony of the city has an effect on our workplace productivity too.
Fortunately, life finds a way. Though many of the traditional ways we’ve expressed beauty throughout society have faded, several of them are making a resurgence and new methods are appearing too. With smartphones we have access to all of the classic books of literature in our pockets. With gigapixel cameras and websites like 360 cities we can tour architectural and natural marvels without the costs of travel. As museums digitize their contents, we can see the relics of our past from across the world. As VR technology develops and becomes more mainstream this will only expand. As we realize the importance of our surroundings on our productivity and well-being, traditional office layouts are being redesigned into more open concepts with a focus on aesthetics again. That’s why so many modern office buildings are doing away with the drab row of cubicles lit by fluorescent lights and replacing them with natural lighting and greenery alongside more character and personalization for employee workstations. Beautiful web design is replacing the clunky boxes of the past as we realize that beauty helps our companies stand out of the crowd. We’re realizing that not only does beauty have a purpose in the professional world, but that it helps make every aspect of both our professional lives and our life at home that little bit better.
So all in all, I’m pretty hopeful for beauty. We’ve realized that it’s necessary in the modern world, we’ve seen that without it mental health issues rise, and in response we’ve begun rebuilding society to include the beautiful once more, whether that’s through new techniques and technologies or by reinviting nature back into our cities. We’ve realized the age-old truth that beauty should not be a privilege of the rich but a gift for the world. For as Dostoevsky says, “Beauty will save the world.”
The office has two 3D printers, not just any 3D printers, these were built by our CEO himself. We decided we wanted to print everything we could think of. We wanted to see how the printers would hold up, how successful the outcome was and what kind of things we could make!
A Phone Stand
The phone stand took a total of 6 hours to print. This is super functional if you are a frequent Facetimer and constantly find yourself propping your phone on a pillow. You can use it to watch movies on your phone, or keep your phone in a super functional position while at your computer.
Geometric Wall Hanging
The sky’s the limit when it comes to 3D printing. Next we printed a cool decoration to add some life to the office. This also took a total of 6 hours to print. If you’re looking to add decorations to your house 3D printers are an amazing tool, you can print out exactly what you like, the color and size, depending how big the printer is. Which brings me right into our next print job.
This one quickly became a favorite. Anyone would love having a super cute dog to look at while you work! If you’re not a dog person, a cat can be printed up just as easily and as cute. Even though it may not look like it, the dog is actually quite small for size, standing only a little taller than the phone stand, it fits nicely into anyone’s hand, even small children.
A Cookie Cutter
The cookie cutter has been printed many times by us before and for good reasons! It takes about the same time as the others to print, and is a great gift to give to others. If you’re wondering if we’ve tried it out, we have in fact and it worked just as expected, perfect. The last, but definitely not least print job is by far the most ridiculously fun.
Yes, you can in fact 3D print games! Who would have thought? While a tournament has yet to be played we pulled the finger soccer fresh off the printer today just to get amazing pictures of it. It’s super fun and comical.
3D printers have so many uses, from pure entertainment, to super handy, to adding life to your office. Next to be printed is Barbie furniture, more pandas, of course and definitely more games. We are proud to say the printers haven’t had trouble, yet (the Barbie furniture itself will test new limits on the printers) and the outcome of each job was better than expected. Follow us along on Facebook and Instagram to see new projects and how our journey continues.
Everyone wants to be seen and heard, but when everyone wants to be seen that means almost no one is. In case you got lost at the title, I’ll briefly explain what exactly SEO is.
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization which is the process of getting more quantity and quality traffic to your website through the free, organic, or natural search results on search engines.
This of course is something you want for your business, free, organic, natural traffic. We’ll dive into some tips you can practice to achieve good SEO on your website.
1. Create Relevant Content
Did you know the amount of time people spend on your website affects your SEO? This means, you want to put out content that people will want to read. Ideally content with more words does better than those with fewer words. But this doesn’t go to say that a post with 2,000 words will do better than one with 500. Pay attention to the quality and relevancy of your posts as this is what makes the biggest difference. The idea behind “the more words the better” is that, you have more space to add keywords, add more outbound links and get people spending more time on your page.
2. Add Quality Photos
Adding photos increases the legitimacy of your website. You can easily find high quality photos for free or take your own pictures for your website. Make sure when adding photos to add keywords to the various components of the image. Such as the file name, alt text, title, description, and caption. Images are processed 60,000 times faster than text and 65% of people are visual learners. Images hold a tremendous amount of value for readers and SEO.
To make posts inviting to viewers always try to break up text with headers. Just think, if you click a link that is only somewhat interesting to you and are greeted with a huge block of “mono tone” looking text, the chances of you sticking around are pretty slim. The title would have to be extremely compelling for you to read past the first sentence. Don’t give your readers “Mount Everest” type of content to tackle. What I mean by this is, you can have a heavy or highly informative topic to write about but if you just lay it all on your readers you will overwhelm or even lose them. Break up your text with images, headers, and shorter paragraphs to avoid exhausting or boring readers. To give your SEO a boost try adding keywords into your headers. The easier your content is to read the better you will rank.
4. Mobile Optimization
Back in 2015 Google started penalizing websites that aren’t mobile friendly by pushing them down in search engine rankings. In fact, taking a look at some statistics on just how many website visits were from mobile devices in 2018, 58% were from mobile devices. This number just keeps jumping each year, if your website isn’t mobile friendly good chance you are also seeing a high bounce rate. If you are a B2B marketer mobile optimization is especially important. 77% of executives use their smartphones to research a product or service for their business.
5. Website Speed
Search engines pay attention to your websites loading speed. The chances of users leaving your site increases if they have to wait longer than 7 seconds for pages to load. Try optimizing the size of your images, larger images can slow down your page. Reduce the number of plugins, the more plugins you have the more resources are needed to run them which slows down your website. The recommended loading speed for your website is under 3 seconds. Since so many websites fall short of the recommended speed, you will have an advantage on your competitors if you increase your website speed.
There are many aspects to SEO but making these few changes will increase your search engine ranking and drive more traffic to your website.
In our office we share memes, eat cake and brainstorm… a lot. But there’s one thing we do even more of.
We use our phones, like a lot, a lot! We use them for testing apps, testing websites, social media management, communication, the list goes on. So with that said, we want to give you the inside scoop of what apps we love to use day in day out, and why they are vital to our entertainment, productivity, communication and lifestyle.
We wrote an article a few weeks back about some of our favorite phone gadgets. Some were for pleasure, others for productivity. If you missed it, you can check it out here as today’s article goes hand in hand. So between, web designers, developers, digital marketers and our CEO, these apps are the ones you need to download, like yesterday!
Podcast can be under entertainment and productivity as there are so many different types of podcasts out there. Our top favorite podcast apps are Podcasts (Apple) and Castbox. Castbox has over 95 million volumes of content and is available for almost all devices.
A few musicians came forward in the office and shared their favorite apps. Guitar Tuna was recommended by a few as an app to tune your guitar on the go or as a back up. It is available for both Apple and Android. Tabs is an app that has thousands of guitar, bass and ukulele tabs and chords for all your favorite songs. If you are looking to take up an instrument here’s two apps that are a go-to’s for the musicians in the office.
Audible is another app that fits into productivity and entertainment. Audible is a mobile library, with loads of books you can listen to or read.
Quora is an app to share opinions, knowledge and feedback. Ask a question and get a helpful answer.
Lynda.com is a popular app for taking online courses. You can choose a topic you would like to learn, for example: photography, web design, film, finance, interior design. The list is endless. You can also choose software you would like to learn. So if you are a photographer, maybe a course that is beneficial to your business is learning how to use Photoshop. If you are looking to get into finance industry, a valuable course might be learning QuickBooks, you can learn QuickBooks for payroll, online, for a Mac, etc.
We also have a lot of photographers in the office, so photo-shop apps or editing apps came up right away. Our favorites are Lightroom and Photoshop Fix, both are easy to use and high quality.
Our office uses Microsoft Teams to communicate and share info with each other (as well as a truck load of memes) it’s a secure way to create group messages. There are so many features within the program to expand functionality: like creating different groups, include files, planners and meetings.
If you want to create logos or invitations an extremely useful app is Canva. You can create logos, Pinterest graphics, resize images to fit other social media platforms, create business cards and so much more! We use this everyday to create our graphics, and images.
Everyone has those apps they use regularly or occasionally that just make your life so much easier. When it comes to lifestyle, the office has a variety of favorites.
Some of us are obsessed with the weather, so we’ve got you covered with choosing the best weather apps. WeatherCan and The Weather Network are our most reliable apps we would recommend to anyone and everyone.
Cozi is a popular app for family organization. You can add shopping lists, cleaning schedules and upcoming events that your family has planned. It’s the perfect app for a busy family and even busier parents.
If you are prone to migraines which some are in the office the Migraine Buddy app is the best app according to both patients and doctors. This app helps you record and identify all aspects of your migraine. For example; what triggers them, your symptoms, medications and so on.
Headspace is a meditation app that helps you let go of stress, learn to relax and get a better nights sleep. If you don’t already have this app it’s definitely a must! Everyone can use a few techniques to reduce stress and anxiety during our busy lives.
What are some apps that are essential for you or just plain fun? Let us know in the ‘leave a comment’ section at the bottom! We’d love to hear from you.
Social media nowadays is more than just a social network. It is used as a tool for businesses and a way to communicate with others. Although sometimes, we can get too caught up in the scrolling world that we don’t realize how it could be affecting our well being, relationships and even work.
As a digital marketing specialist I work with various social media platforms every day. It’s my job to scroll, to build community and relationships with people. Social media is a business tool so deleting it just isn’t an option… or is it?
The answer is yes. Yes, you can delete social media and you know why? Because it’s good for you.
The average person will spend nearly two hours a day on social media.
Want to to see if you fit the average? Take a look at your Screen Time feature (if you have an iPhone.) The results will likely surprise you. You can see which categories you spend the most time on. Entertainment, productivity, social networking etc. You can also see how many notifications you get a day and how many times you pick up your device. As someone who works on social media for work, my times may be a bit above average but I want to give you a look at what my statistics look like.
Average Screen time per day: 4 hours 33 minutes
Social networking (you will be knocked off your feet here) 24 *hours* 20 minutes! (Time for a social media detox!)
Pickups: 92 per day
Notifications: 59 per day
This is a lot of phone time! Most of it is social networking.
So here’s why it’s so important to take some time away from social media, even if you use it as a business tool. And some tips to get around the business aspect of it to put your mind at ease when you step away.
1. Social media tends to make you focus on others more than yourself
You mindlessly scroll, coming across a picture of how your co-worker bought a new car, or that your friends went out and had sushi on Saturday night. Are these things you really need to know about? No, not really. It’s entertaining, for sure. But this tends to just make you more concerned with what others are doing with their lives, rather than what you are doing with yours. Weekends spent working towards your personal, or business goals may not be glamorous or Instagram worthy. But it’s good for you. Taking the time away from social media means that you have to go out of your way to find out about other peoples lives. Its not just information accessibly to you. So if you need to know what others are doing you will have to be intentional.
2. Too public
Privacy has gone out the window, that is usually when it comes to social media. Of course as a business, keeping people in the loop about new offers or features you offer is key to your account and potential leads. But are you being too public with your personal account? Or finding it draining when others are too public with their lives? This could be a sign that you need to take a step away from the screen. Realigning what is appropriate to post on social media platforms and what is private to you or your family sometimes comes from taking a step away and realizing that you can still have a good time, without having to post about it or update your Facebook status.
3. Distorted version of reality
I can tell you that many accounts you follow on Instagram or Facebook are not all they say they are. Not that they are lying to you with their words, but sometimes it can be hard to differentiate whats real and whats not in an image. You see it in magazines, on billboards, TV ads and so many more places, especially on your own device. With the apps available to literally anyone, you can’t trust what is real or not. I can make the trees in the fall look more radiant than they actually are, my skin more glowing, even make water move in a still image. False images are thrown to you left and right and sometimes it’s exhausting. Even if you don’t realize it.
4. Live in the moment
Ever been to a wedding and can’t actually see the beautiful bride because of all the phones popping up all over the place? Cellphones have actually changed how professional photographers do their job. Some couples have asked that people put their phones in a basket because the photographer won’t be able to get beautiful pictures without arms stretched all over the isle trying to get pictures or live videos for the world to see. We have sometimes forgotten how to truly live in the moment. Taking a social media detox will make events or scenery more fulfilling for you. Try going outdoors for a hike and just breathe in the fresh air, take in the moment.
Resist the temptation to pull out your phone to document the event or share it with your friends. Do it for you.
5. Free up your time
Now that your phone doesn’t have 410 notifications (okay maybe that an exaggeration) a day from Facebook or Twitter what do you do with all your free time? You can read a book, try yoga, go for a long walk with your dog… the possibilities are endless. You may even notice your energy go up, with removing yourself from comparison and false reality.
Quick tips to take a break from social media if you need it for work:
Get a scheduling app. Apps like Buffer or Tailwind can schedule your content for you if you need to be on top of posting for your business. Put in a bit extra time to retrieve content and caption your posts. Schedule them for times that suit your audience, simple as that!
Only delete your personal account to cut down on time you spend endlessly scrolling on the platform. Restrict your time limits to only work hours or only to answer messages or comments. (check in once a day for only a few minutes and avoid going into the feed. Only check notifications or places that actually need your attention.)
Hire someone to manage your social media accounts for you, so your account is still active even if you aren’t. This will make it easier if you want to make it a routine to get unconnected with the digital world more often.
Taking a digital detox (more specifically social media) has multiple benefits to your personal well being. The world will not end if you don’t upload a picture of your food. Allow yourself to step away from time to time. It’s becoming more and more important as social media grows to set boundaries with what’s private and what’s public. Start with one day, then a weekend, and adjust accordingly. Some can go a month, while for others, a day is just as refreshing.
If you are looking for someone to manage social media for your business, send us an email or call us at 780-652-1190
Today, virtual reality is used for many things, most commonly in the gaming industry. Although that may be the most popular way to use those fun goggles, there’s many ways that common business are utilizing them as well.
You walk past the Microsoft Store in the mall. People are crowded around a person wearing big goggles. They attract attention as they swat around in the air randomly. If it’s the first time you’ve seen this, you may be confused, thinking they are crazy or totally intrigued! But if you’ve seen this before, you might already know it’s Virtual Reality! How does such an advanced tool that seems only practical for gaming apply to common businesses?
Here’s some ways your business can benefit from virtual reality other than games. Don’t worry it will still be loads of fun!
Try before you buy
For example; if you are a hardware store, many people come looking for things to upgrade their home. Sometimes it’s small things for regular maintenance. Other times its a total transformation to their home. Customers can design their bathroom or kitchen exactly the way they want it and use virtual reality to test out their new design.
Many Travel agencies are using VR as a way for clients to virtually experience their vacation before they even step out of the office. Viewers can walk the along pathways in British Columbia with a new VR experience called “Wild Within.” You can also add virtual reality to hotel or resort bookings customers can walk through the lobby and even tour a room to seal the deal with their bookings.
New spin on traditional sales
In the business of selling cars? Why not offer your customers a virtual reality experience to try out vehicles not yet available at the dealership. Promote new features and upcoming looks, so customers can see their dream car in “reality.” Automakers are looking to VR to attract customers, increase time spent at the dealership and to promote car sales. In a Audi dealership in London, 50 percent of customers within the first year of using VR experience, pilot ordered vehicles without customers having a physical test drive, basing their purchase upon their virtual experience.
Virtual Reality has even become valuable on the factory floor. Training employees on forklift safety using VR has many benefits. It’s a safe environment for employees to gain hands on training without the risk of injury or property/equipment damage. While virtual reality may seem costly, it saves time and money on in person training, repairs, insurance claims and liabilities.
Virtual Reality is a fun tool to promote your business and engage with your customers on a whole new level. It is widely used for gaming but has so many more features to offer small businesses as it becomes more mainstream.
Interested in Virtual Reality for your business? Send us an email
Being out for meetings all day long or at events can drain your battery and finding a plug in, isn’t always an option. We love portable chargers. These iWalk ones are about the “size of lipstick” so easily fit into pockets and bags and you can put on your phone anywhere to give it an extra boost of life.
I personally use one of these a lot for SD cards from my professional camera. It’s nice to be able to snap some shots on my high quality camera and then upload them directly to my phone for Instagram photos. This card reader in particular is neat because it has others options like getting data from USB cards too.
Phones cameras are getting better and better but they are also still limited. There are so many options out there, but we are checking out this kit with a bunch of different lenses. Maybe a review coming soon on it?
Yes, these are used a lot for selfies, but even if you aren’t into selfies that much they are great for illuminating people in dark places for photos of them. And the cool remote that this one comes with allows you to get in the picture with them sometimes!